Illinois Institute of Technology (Illinois Tech) is a member of a group of universities, wireless industry leaders, and governmental bodies that has been named an inaugural Tech Hubs Strategy Development Consortium by the United States Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) and awarded a Strategy Development Grant (SDG).

Illinois Tech is part of the Midwest Wireless Innovation Strategy Development Consortium led by the University of Notre Dame. The consortium—serving Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan—will develop a strategy to connect, strengthen, and grow a network of 21 physical centers into innovation clusters that specialize in advanced technology innovation, commercialization and workforce training. The new Tech Hubs Program aims to foster innovation and job creation by investing in high-potential regions to increase their capabilities to produce, market, and implement groundbreaking technologies. 

“This is quite an honor and a ringing endorsement for our work pushing the boundaries of advanced wireless technology,” said Cynthia Hood, associate professor of computer science and engineering and Illinois Tech’s faculty lead in the consortium. “This Strategy Development Grant will enable us to further our research, collaborate more deeply with our partners, and accelerate the implementation of advanced wireless solutions in the Midwest.”

The winners of Phase One of the Tech Hubs Program were selected from nearly 400 applications from regional consortia that include industry, academia, state and local governments, economic development organizations, and labor and workforce partners. As part of the Tech Hubs competition, each consortium outlined plans for strengthening its region’s capacity to manufacture, commercialize, and deploy critical technologies.

This consortium builds on Illinois Tech’s partnerships in advanced manufacturing and electronics. Notably, DMG MORI and the university have agreed to establish a national center for advanced manufacturing that would be one of the nation’s first joint university and industry academies to train, develop, and empower the advanced manufacturing workforces of the future. In addition, Illinois Tech is part of the Midwest Microelectronics Consortium Hub, which seeks to grow the region’s position as an international innovation and technology hub by advancing the defense and commercial capability of the microelectronics ecosystem.

“One of our great strengths at Illinois Tech is the depth of our collaborations both within academia and with partners across government and industry, and this designation by the EDA stands as a testament to that,” said Illinois Tech Provost Kenneth Christensen. “This consortium showcases the powerful synergy that emerges when diverse minds and institutions unite with a shared vision to advance the frontiers of technology. Together, we’re not only shaping the future of wireless innovation, but building robust ecosystems that foster economic growth and technological prowess in the Midwest and beyond.”

The Tech Hubs Program—which was authorized by the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act that President Joe Biden signed into law in August 2022—is an economic development initiative designed to drive regional innovation and job creation by strengthening a region’s capacity to manufacture, commercialize, and deploy technology that will advance American competitiveness. In its first phase, 31 Tech Hubs were designated and 29 Strategy Development Grants were awarded. SDGs help communities significantly increase local coordination and planning activities and could make selected grantees more competitive for future Tech Hubs funding opportunities. 

“President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is rooted in policies that will empower the United States to out-innovate and out-compete the rest of the world. Our Tech Hubs Program is fundamental to that mission and will supercharge innovation across the nation by spurring cutting-edge technological investments and creating twenty-first century job opportunities in people’s backyards,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “Each of these consortia will help us ensure the industries of the future—and their good-paying jobs—start, grow, and remain in the United States.”